Italia Rail offers a slick rail service which includes excellent accessibility services for those who need it. While we were travelling through Italy we used the Italian Rail network extensively and I was impressed by its reliability and the services they offer to travellers with a disability.
Italia Rail – accessibility on the Italian Rail network
Italia Rail offers a range of services for people with disability including Sala Blue (which means Blue Room or Blue Hall in Italian). There are Sala Blu facilities at 14 train stations, and these manage a circuit of 270 stations throughout the country..
Travellers with reduced mobility (this includes a temporary injury, pregnant women and elderly travellers) blind or visually-impaired travellers, deaf or hearing impaired people, travellers with an intellectual disability and wheelchair users can use the services of Sala Blu.
Services Offered by Sala Blu
Services available from Sala Blu include information, use of wheelchairs, assistance in navigating the station, lifts for wheelchair users to get on and off trains, and more. Find more on the official Sala Blu website.
How to Arrange for Sala Blu Assistance
You can request assistance by going to the Sale Blu office at the stations, or by calling the RFI National Telephone Number – 199 30 30 60 from within Italy or if you are contacting them from outside Italy, dial +39 06 47308579.
These numbers are available seven days a week from 6:45am through 9:30pm Italian time, including public holidays.
You can also send an email to the Sala Blu office at a specific station detailing your travel information and assistance requirements.
For international travel, assistance requests must be made at least 48 hours before departure. For trips within Italy, requests must be made at least 24 hours before if requesting by email, and between 1-12 hours before depending on the hour of departure.
At the stations we saw staff waiting at drop off locations ready to assist travellers needing assistance.
Wheelchair lifts were dotted along platforms at the various stations to provide access to the trains for wheelchair users.
Wheelchair accessible carriages are clearly marked.
Trains are clean and well maintained. Wheelchair spaces are located within the accessible carriages.
Italia Rail – accessible bathrooms on Italy’s rail network
Large unisex accessible bathrooms are located within the accessible train carriages.
Touch button entry opens the wide doorway to access the designated accessible bathroom.
Once inside the toilet is fitted with a grab rail. I’m sure it’s helpful not only for transferring but also when the high speed trains are rocketing along the tracks and you’re trying to do your business!
USB and power outlets are provided on the trains.
Italia Rail – services for vision impaired travellers
I was immediately struck by the extensive use of Braille at the train stations and throughout Italy in general. It seems there is a much greater awareness of the needs of people who are blind or who have a vision impairment.
Braille signage and maps can be found throughout the Italia Rail network.
On the trains Braille can be found on all signage including seat numbering and washbasins in the bathroom.
Italia Rail – accessibility at train stations
Accessibility seems to be top-of-mind at Italia Rail from accessing the ticket windows to riding the trains.
As we would arrive at terminals I loved hearing the announcement onboard telling us we were “arriving on time.” The Italians seemed particularly proud of this, displaying it in the train and announcing it over the loud speaker – just in case you missed the visual. Given we were on a tight schedule, I appreciated their punctual arrivals.
To say I was impressed with Italia Rail is an understatement. I’d love to see greater access here in Australia on our rail network.